Century Theatre and Gardens

Kent Street,
Rockingham Beach, WA 6168

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Century Theatre and Gardens  Kent Street, Rockingham Beach, WA - Commemoration  Plaque

Century Theatre and Gardens opened in(mid or late-1940’s or early-1950’s?), and closed in 1963. Century Theatre and Gardens were demolished(date unknown?). The site is now a post office, and a optometrist shop(Abernethy Owens).

Contributed by David Coppock

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film on November 16, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Century Theatre and Gardens Kent Street, Rockingham Beach, WA


History Rockingham after WWII, regained it’s popularity as a tourist destination and development increased, including new recreational facilities, for both residents and holiday makers alike. Outdoor Picture Theatres were popular in the 1930’s through to the 1950’s. The Cabaret which also known as the Jazz Hall was built to the south of the Rockingham Hotel in 1920. It was first used as a dance hall by licensees, the Harrisons and Griggs and then became the venue for moving picutres in Rockingham. A projection box was built outside the hall to the south side, with picture images projected through a hole in the wall onto the screen installed in the hall. The patrons sat uncomfortably in old wrought iron framed padded seats, which were later replaced with deck chairs.

Film nights were held every Saturday throughout the year and every night during the holidays when there were many visitors in town. Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s Syd hart and his wife ran the Rockingham Pictures. It was taken over by McGrath who has placed billboards and banners around the hall to advertise films showed at the theatre. In 1940, Jack Bidstrup who leased Mandogalup Hall in Safety Bay, used it as a picture theatre named Bay View Theatre. It showed films in opposition to the Theatre in Rockingham, and both occasionally showed the same films by swapping reels every half time.

In 1944, Harry Delevale took over Rockingham Hotel and built an open air theatre next to the hotel where the tennis courts were located. In the late 1940’s, an open air theatre was built a few blocks south towards Railway Terrace on a site sloping towards the screen at seaward end. It was less sheltered and patrons were watching films in the cold during winter nights. In the 1950’s, a purpose built theatre called the “Century Gardens” was constructed st the corner of Railway terrace and Kent Street. It was managed by Jack and Maureen Bidstrup who were also managing the Bay View Theatre at that time. A few years later, the Jazz Hall was demolished to make way for new shops – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

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